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Premier League clubs are facing pressure from Asian broadcasters for rebates that could cost them tens of millions of pounds, as a result of the rescheduling of many matches to evening kick-offs to benefit domestic fans. This demand is on top of a loss of revenue of up to £100 million a month due to lost gate receipts.
Media companies in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia have protested that the rescheduling of matches has affected their viewers and commercial partners due to the time difference.
Thus far, there have been only two Premier League matches with the traditional Saturday 3 p.m. kick-off this season, the primetime slot in Asia: Southampton v Crystal Palace and Leeds v Fulham.
To date, the Asian TV market is the most lucrative in the world for the Premier League, with the region bringing in about £400 million to the top flight’s £1.2 billion overseas rights package. Media companies in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and India pay £330 million each year to broadcast matches.
Balancing Local and International Markets
This season’s matches were rescheduled in a bid to maintain exclusivity for domestic rights holders, such as Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime and the BBC.
To balance this new arrangement, the League has also introduced an additional Sunday lunchtime kick-off to benefit audiences in Asia.
In recent years, the League has been faced with a tough act of balancing overseas and local viewership, as the value of the domestic rights package has dropped to £5 billion over three years, while the trend for overseas rights continues to remain upward.
Other challenges from local television
Aside from the threat of having to pay additional rebates, the League has also been confronted with domestic challenges over the televised airing of matches.
Many clubs are unwilling to make all matches available for broadcast for fear of losing their value, and have only agreed to do so as a temporary measure.
Other clubs have also opposed giving matches to broadcasters for free, but rights holders have rejected this in view of the additional fees, given the limited time in their schedules and the uncertainty about the rest of the season.
Less than a week to come up with solution
The League currently has a little over a week to come up with a new broadcast plan and agree to any potential rebates, as the schedule from 3 October onwards has not been finalised.
An emergency meeting of clubs to resolve the issue is expected to be held next week.